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Swiss steel mill readies for shorter hours as energy bills soar -paper

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss steel mill Stahl Gerlafingen has gained regulatory approval to put staff on shorter working hours to contend with soaring energy bills that will cost in a month what they normally cost in a year, the NZZ am Sonntag paper reported.

"High energy prices threaten our existence," the paper quoted Chief Executive Alain Creteur as saying of the mill owned by Italy's Beltrame Group.

"It may be that no one has to go on short-time work. But it could also be that we have to send part of the workforce or all 560 employees home."

No one was available at the company on Sunday to comment on the report, which highlights the impact of the energy crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Swiss government last week launched a voluntary campaign to urge consumers and businesses to conserve energy as looming winter shortages raise the possibility of rationing in a worst-case scenario.

The NZZ said a national stress test was planned this month to examine how large consumers would respond to power rationing.

Monika Ruehl, head of business lobby Economiesuisse, last week cited estimates from the civil defence office that weeks-long energy shortages could deliver a potential Swiss economic hit of more than 100 billion Swiss francs ($102 billion).

($1 = 0.9804 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by David Goodman)